Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES - SELECTED ESSAYS

'THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES - SELECTED ESSAYS' by Clifford Geertz begins with a declaration, this is not a "General  Theory of  Cultural Interpretation." It is however, as the author mentions in preface, a view of what culture is, what  role it plays in social  life, and how it ought properly to be studied.
The first chapter discusses different thories of culture, like Susanne Langer and 'certain  ideas' that 'burst upon the intellectual landscape with  a tremendous force.  They resolve so  many fundamental problems at  once  that they seem also  to  promise that they will resolve all fundamental problems, clarify  all obscure issues. Everyone snaps them up as  the open sesame of some new positive  science, the conceptual center-point around which a  comprehensive system of analysis can  be built.' Or the view that 'man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun' and takes 'culture to  be those webs'. Therafter the book discusses in various essays like the 'Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man', the 'Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind' and 'Religion As a Cultural System', manifestation of particularities of humans, the sum total of which is what we call culture.
Discussions in this book on all the above topics are quite extensive and garnished abundantly with factual tit bits from a wide variety of communities from all continents. But I notice one thing missing. No logical arguement is given for the necessity of culture. Why should man have a culture? What metabolic need is satisfied here?
(In fact in attempting to answer such questions only I fell upon my theories explained in my book, The Unsure male.)

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